Tuesday, June 6, 2023

‘Publicity Lodge’s new officers’

Publicity and visiting Masons last night.

Publicity Lodge 1000 will enter its second century this fall with its newly installed officer team, they having been made legal last night.

It was a fine affair. And public, so we enjoyed the company of family and friends of Freemasonry.


The Installing Master, one of our venerable PMs, guided us through the ceremony as Leonard Bernstein would conduct the Philharmonic. Multiple Right Worshipfuls attended to demonstrate their friendship to the new Master. (I withhold his name, unsure if he is known publicly as a Freemason.) A contingent of Prince Hall brethren did likewise. And our Fourth Manhattan VIPs supported our special night too. And Oscar stopped in to say hello as well, before heading upstairs to Allied Lodge, where he had a speaking engagement.

It was a full house in the Doric Room.

Several Publicity Masons we haven’t seen in a while turned out, which is a big part of the fun too.

Past Master Chris transmits Solomonic wisdom to his duly installed successor, Worshipful Master Tom, as Installing Master William looks on.

For my part, I continue as Tiler, keeping away the cowans and eavesdroppers. However I struck out in my bid to serve as Historian also. Apparently our bylaws didn’t create the position, so there’s no way to install anyone as such. I foresee a proposed amendment this fall when we resume our labors. (Our Grand Lodge’s Grand Historian has the goal of seeing every lodge include a Historian.) I’ll keep busy doing the relevant work in the meantime.

Aside from our summer outing, probably one Saturday next month, Publicity Lodge will meet next on September 11. We’re known for hospitality, so come visit—and check in with the Tiler.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

‘William Morgan at The ALR this month’


The American Lodge of Research will meet again on the twenty-seventh of the month—that’s a Tuesday—at Masonic Hall. Seven o’clock in the Colonial Room on ten.

From the Worshipful Master:

At our June meeting, the Lodge will receive a paper and presentation from one of our Active Members, R.W. Bro. Ron Murad. The topic of his paper is “The Truth—Maybe—of the Morgan Affair: Its Impact on Anti-Masonry.”

The painting that graces the cover of this meeting notice is Skaneateles Lake by the artist Mike Kraus. While Skaneateles Lake is only somewhat geographically close to the town of Batavia, New York, it is more emblematic of what that part of New York must have looked like around the time of Morgan’s disappearance. Morgan’s departure from the town of Batavia, whether voluntary or coerced, has been a subject of intense research by Masons and non-Masons alike since the time the event took place in 1826.

The fallout was swift and impactful to Masonry, with his disappearance and the minimal punishment for his accused kidnappers giving rise to public outrage, protests, the closure of many Masonic lodges, and the rise of a national Anti-Masonic Party.

On a trip to Buffalo, New York about ten years ago, I had the opportunity to stop by the memorial to William Morgan at the Batavia Cemetery. It is an imposing column with a depiction of Morgan on top. I am looking forward to Bro. Murad’s presentation and the new light it will shine on this time in Masonic history.

Bro. Ron is becoming a fixture at The ALR.

Our other attraction that evening will be elections and installation of officers for the ensuing year. W. Bro. Conor will be exiting the East after two years of restoring order from chaos, to say the least. We have been lucky to have him at the helm. The task still outstanding is our book of transactions, and that’s my fault. Still working on it. The goal was to distribute copies at this June 27 meeting, and I apologize for taking so long. Look for a summertime mailing.

Unless something goes awry on the twenty-seventh, I will find myself in the West by the time we close. Hope to see you there.

Friday, June 2, 2023

‘Charges from the old and to the new lodge Masters’

From Etsy

’Tis the season of Installations of Officers here in New York Freemasonry. I’m eager to get to lodge Monday night for ours.

The Master-elect has been a Master Mason for more than twenty years, but the rest of the officer line is comprised of Masons who have been around for, I think, five years or less. It’s fun for me to observe their efforts and palpable sincerity, and even to hear their worries and frustrations because they don’t know how good they have it! Without uttering—or perhaps knowing—the “O word,” Publicity Lodge upholds most of the Observant suite of best practices simply from tradition. I guess that makes sense, as in Traditional Observance.

But, while I look forward to Monday, I look back today at one of the essential seminal works of Masonic literature. With the installation of a new Worshipful Master and the “outstallation” of our current Master, I am reminded of two essays by William Hutchinson from The Spirit of Masonry, first printed in 1775.

In my view, there are about ten books from eighteenth century England that are essential reading for those who want to understand what Freemasons do and why, and The Spirit of Masonry is among them. (Without listing all, I’ll just say they are books of constitutions, ritual exposures, and individuals’ expoundings of Masonic thought. Nearly all that have followed are derivative.)

William Hutchinson
These pieces from Hutchinson originally were charges. William James Hutchinson (1732-1814) was a lawyer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, and an author of poetry and prose. He would come to be dubbed “The Father of Masonic Symbolism,” to give an idea of his significance to what we do in lodge. Sunday, the fourth of June, happens to be the anniversary of his initiation into Freemasonry in 1770—meaning he had composed these orations and published Spirit within five years of being made a Mason.

What follow are, first, an excerpt of one of the charges from The Spirit of Masonry and then the ensuing charge in its entirety. Enjoy.

A Charge Delivered
by the Worshipful Master
on Resigning the Chair

By the rules of this lodge, I am now to resign the chair. But I cannot do this with entire satisfaction until I have testified the grateful sense I feel of the honor I received in being advanced to it.

Your generous and unanimous choice of me for your Master demands my thankful acknowledgments, though, at the same time, I sincerely wish that my abilities had been more adequate to the charge which your kind partiality elected me to. But this has always been, and still is, my greatest consolation, that, however deficient I may have been in the discharge of my duty, no one can boast a heart more devoted to the good of, the institution in general, and the reputation of this lodge in particular.

Though I am apprehensive I have already trespassed on your patience, yet, if I might be indulged, I would humbly lay before you a few reflections, adapted to the business of the day, which, being the effusions of a heart truly Masonic, will, it is hoped, be received with candor by you.

Title page.
Every association of men, as well as this of Freemasons must, for the sake of order and harmony, be regulated by certain laws, and, for that purpose, proper officers must be appointed, and empowered to carry those laws into execution, to preserve a degree of uniformity, at least to restrain any irregularity that might render such associations inconsistent. For we may as reasonably suppose an army may be duly disciplined, well provided, and properly conducted, without generals and other officers, as that a society can be supported without governors and their subalterns; or, which is the same, without some form of government to answer the end of the institution. And, as such an arrangement must be revered, it becomes a necessary requisite that a temper should be discovered in the several members adapted to the respective stations they are to fill.

This thought will suggest to you, that those who are ratified to preside as officers in a lodge, will not be sated with that honor, but, losing sight of it, will have only in view the service their office demands. Their reproofs will be dictated by friendship, softened by candor, and enforced with mildness and affection; in the whole of their deportment they will preserve a degree of dignity, tempered with affability and ease. This conduct, while it endears them to others, will not fail to raise their own reputation; and as envy should not be so much as once named among Freemasons, it will effectually prevent the growth of it, should it unfortunately ever appear.

Such is the nature of our constitution, that as some must of necessity rule and teach, so others must of course learn to obey; humility, therefore, in both, becomes an essential duty; for pride and ambition, like a worm at the root of a tree, will prey on the vitals of our peace, harmony, and brotherly love.

Had not this excellent temper prevailed when the foundation of Solomon’s Temple was first laid, it is easy to see that that glorious edifice would never have risen to a height of splendour which astonished the world.

Had all employed in this work been masters or superintendants, who must have prepared the timber in the forest, or hewn the stone in the quarry? Yet, though they were numbered and classed under different denominations, as princes, rulers, provosts, comforters of the people, stone-squarers, sculptors, &c., such was their unanimity, that they seemed actuated by one spirit, influenced by one principle.

Grand Lodge of New York Past Master apron.

Merit alone, then, entitled to preferment; an indisputable instance of which we have in the Deputy Grand Master of that great undertaking, who, without either wealth or power, or any other distinction than that of being the widow’s son, was appointed by the Grand Master, and approved by the people for this single reason—because he was a skillful artificer.

Let these considerations, my worthy brethren, animate us in the pursuits of so noble a science, that we may all be qualified to fill, in rotation, the most distinguished places in the lodge, and keep the honors of the Craft, which are the just rewards of our labor, in a regular circulation.

And, as none are less qualified to govern than those who have not learned to obey, permit me, in the warmest manner, to recommend to you all a constant attendance in this place, a due obedience to the laws of our institution, and a respectful submission to the direction of your officers, that you may prove to mankind the propriety of your election, and secure the establishment of this society to the latest posterity.

A Short Charge
Delivered to the Master
on Being Invested and Installed

Worshipful Sir,

By the unanimous voice of the members of this lodge, you are elected to the mastership thereof for the ensuing half-year; and I have the happiness of being deputed to invest you with this ensign of your office, be it ever in your thoughts that the ancients particularly held this symbol to be a just, a striking emblem of the Divinity. They said the gods, who are the authors of every thing established in wisdom, strength, and beauty, were properly represented by this figure. May you, worthy brother, not only consider it a mark of honor in this assembly, but also let it ever remind you of your duty both to God and man. And, as you profess the Sacred Volume to be your spiritual tressel-board, may you make it your particular care to square your life and conversation according to the rules and designs laid down therein.

You have been of too long standing, and are too good a member of our community, to require now any information in the duty of your office. What you have seen praiseworthy in others, we doubt not, you will imitate; and what you have seen defective, you will in yourself amend.

We have, therefore, the greatest reason to expect you will be constant and regular in your attendance on the lodge, faithful and diligent in the discharge of your duty, and that you will make the honor of the Supreme Architect of the Universe, and the good of the Craft, chief objects of your regard.

We likewise trust you will pay a punctual attention to the laws and regulations of this society, as more particularly becoming your present station; and that you will, at the same time, require a due obedience to them from every other member, well knowing that, without this, the best of laws become useless.

For a pattern of imitation, consider the great luminary of Nature, which, rising in the east, regularly diffuses light and lustre to all within its circle. In like manner it is your province, with due decorum, to spread and communicate light and instruction to the brethren in the lodge.

From the knowledge we already have of your zeal and abilities, we rest assured you will discharge the duties of this important station in such a manner as will redound greatly to the honor of yourself, as well as of those members over whom you are elected to preside.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

‘Maybe Freemasons aren’t devil worshipping lesbians’


Richard Brookhiser is an author and historian I have followed since his days long ago at National Review. And literally following today—on Twitter. Saturday, Freemasonry came up in conversation among some of his acquaintances, and you can appreciate how that word stands out, so I couldn’t help but notice. And then I saw strange comments.

Anyway, the tweeting about Freemasonry mentioned the appearance last Thursday of author John Dickie on The Rest Is History, a podcast I’m very pleased to have found. Dickie wrote the popular The Craft: How the Freemasons Made the Modern World. (I haven’t read it yet.)

It’s a fun interview. If you’ve been around a long time, you might not find it particularly informative, but I think it’s a fair discussion—with some humor too. (Ergo the title of this edition of The Magpie Mason. And catch the mentions of cricket.) Actually, I learned something about the Cathars.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

‘Mozart’s Masonic opera at The Met’

The Met

It’s halfway through its three-week run already, but there still is plenty of opportunity to take in the Metropolitan Opera’s new staging of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Masonic opera” The Magic Flute. Actually, this is Die Zauberflöte, as it is a German-language production of more than three hours, as opposed to The Met’s annual Christmastime production of Julie Taymor’s English-language suitable-for-children confection.

Tickets, starting at $39.50, can be booked here. And this will be part of The Met’s Live in HD series in movie theaters. From the publicity:

One of opera’s most beloved works receives its first new Met staging in 19 years—a daring vision by renowned English director Simon McBurney that The Wall Street Journal declared “the best production I’ve ever witnessed of Mozart’s opera.” Nathalie Stutzmann conducts the Met Orchestra, with the pit raised to make the musicians visible to the audience and allow interaction with the cast. In his Met-debut staging, McBurney lets loose a volley of theatrical flourishes, incorporating projections, sound effects, and acrobatics to match the spectacle and drama of Mozart’s fable.

Kathryn Lewek
The brilliant cast includes soprano Erin Morley as Pamina, tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Tamino, baritone Thomas Oliemans in his Met debut as Papageno, soprano Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, and bass Stephen Milling as Sarastro.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) was the son of a Salzburg court musician who exhibited him as a musical prodigy throughout Europe. His achievements in opera, in terms of beauty, vocal challenge, and dramatic insight, remain unsurpassed. He died three months after the premiere of Die Zauberflöte, his last produced work for the stage. The remarkable Emanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812) was an actor, singer, theater manager, a friend of Mozart who wrote the opera’s libretto, staged the work, and sang the role of Papageno in the initial run.

The Met

World premiere: Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden, Vienna, 1791.

Die Zauberflöte—a sublime fairy tale that moves freely between earthy comedy and noble mysticism—was written for a theater located just outside Vienna with the clear intention of appealing to audiences from all walks of life. The story is told in a singspiel (“song-play”) format characterized by separate musical numbers connected by dialogue and stage activity, an excellent structure for navigating the diverse moods, ranging from solemn to lighthearted, of the story and score. The composer and the librettist were both Freemasons—the fraternal order whose membership is held together by shared moral and metaphysical ideals—and Masonic imagery is used throughout the work. The story, however, is as universal as any fairy tale.

The Met

The libretto specifies Egypt as the location of the action. Egypt was traditionally regarded as the legendary birthplace of the Masonic fraternity, whose symbols and rituals populate this opera. Some productions include Egyptian motifs as an exotic nod to this idea, but many more opt for a more generalized mythic ambience to convey the otherworldliness that the score and overall tone of the work call for.


Die Zauberflöte was written with an eye toward a popular audience, but the varied tone of the work requires singers who can specialize in several different musical genres. The comic and earthy are represented by the baritone, Papageno, while true love in its noblest forms is conveyed by the tenor, Tamino, and the soprano, Pamina. The bass, Sarastro, expresses the solemn and the transcendental. The use of the chorus is spare but hauntingly beautiful, and fireworks are provided by the coloratura Queen of the Night.

Please note that video cameras will be in operation during the May 31 and June 3 performances as part of the Met’s Live in HD series of cinema transmissions.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

‘Tompkins remembrance next Friday’

Magpie file photo
Daniel D. Tompkins bust at the church.

The brethren of Tompkins Lodge 471 will visit Daniel D. Tompkins’ burial place next Friday for their annual memorial ceremony.

With the Tompkins Historical Society, which will hold a meeting at McSorley’s after the event, the lodge will gather at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery on East Tenth Street at 6 p.m. on Friday the second for the service.

Daniel D. Tompkins was made a Mason at Hiram Lodge 72 in Westchester County. He became Grand Secretary of our Grand Lodge, and he served as the first Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. He seemed to have eked out some existence outside the fraternity, having served as:

  • Assemblyman, State of New York (1804)
  • Associate Justice, State Supreme Court (1804-07)
  • Governor of New York (1807-17)
  • Vice President of the United States (1817-25)

Magpie file photo
Tompkins’ grave at St. Mark’s Church.

Tompkins bankrupted himself raising and equipping troops to fight England in the War of 1812. He died at his home in Staten Island on June 11, 1825. The Masons of the lodge named for him seem to do this about that date each year. I recommend checking it out. St. Mark’s is a historic church worth visiting in its own right. And, again, McSorley’s is just a few blocks down.

For some background on what the first such service was like, click here. And try this one for more Daniel D. Tompkins info.

Friday, May 26, 2023

‘New film: A Way of Light’

Word has just come from Bro. Francis Dumaurier about a new short film from the National Grand Lodge of France commemorating the 300th anniversary of Anderson’s Constitutions. An English-language version is available on YouTube:

RW Bro. Dumaurier is the GLNF’s Grand Representative Near New York.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

‘Craftsmen Online Super Fans unite!’


Starting today, Craftsmen Online, the clearinghouse of Masonic education and news launched during the pandemic to keep Light shining, offers content reserved for those who wisely pay the inordinately modest subscription fee. I signed up yesterday (I’m a sucker for exclusivity).

You know the podcast, with its 3,000 episode downloads per month; and you’ve read the blog; and you receive the newsletter; and maybe you’ve attended the Reading Room; and perhaps you’ve benefitted from the ritual education and the historical research (I think that’s everything!), so now we happy few who pony up five bucks a month can partake of:

  • subscriber-exclusive podcast episodes with select guest stars
  • access to exclusive Zoom meetings with special guests
  • podcast episodes without ads
  • early access to the episodes

Excerpted from the publicity:

From the beginning of Craftsmen Online, RW Steven Adam Rubin and I have been dedicated to producing quality products. We see this as more than a project to provide a place for Brothers to connect during the pandemic, but as a long-term resource to unite Masons across the internet who seek more Light in Freemasonry.

After three seasons, with our early episodes being broadcast to an audience, thanks to your generous support, we have grown our reach to all jurisdictions in the United States and beyond! Now it is time to offer you, our listener, an opportunity to take your experience to the next level.

Today, we proudly announce the Craftsmen Online Podcast Super Fan subscription. Podcast enthusiasts will be able to listen to our episodes early and ad-free, with special subscriber-only episodes with select guests who go deeper and continue their discussions—and we will offer you the opportunity to interact with these select guests virtually during VIP Zoom webinars.

Bro. Michael Arce
Co-Founder and Podcast Host

The inaugural podcast with paid subscription features Ohio’s Bro. Jason Short, who speaks on “An Exploration of Words and Widows,” in which he delves into Biblical content borrowed for the EA°. There also is a PDF we may download for further tutelage.

The Craftsmen Online Podcast Super Fan subscription comes via Patreon, which marks its tenth anniversary this month. It really is that simple. While Craftsmen Online is created by New York Masons, its content befits all the brethren wheresoever dispersed about the face of the earth. That’s you! Click here to sign up. If you are yet unfamiliar with this top rated podcast and the other attractions of Craftsmen Online, click here to inspect the warrant, as it were.

Friday, May 19, 2023

‘A serious alarm at the outer door’

Michael LaRocco

Information is scant, so pardon the sensationalism of this edition of The Magpie Mason, but an act of vandalism at Masonic Hall tonight is impossible to ignore. VW Bro. Michael LaRocco, Executive Director of the Livingston Library, posted the photos above on social media a short time ago with the explanation that a homeless person broke the glass in one of the leaves of the revolving door at the main entrance.

I’ll share more information if any becomes known.

You might recall the attempted firebombing of the building on October 8, 2019, when an unidentified man tossed an ineffective molotov cocktail at the 24th Street door. No injuries or damage that time.

The rot of this city is evident in thousands of ways.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

‘Warren Lodge’s festive board in July’

Magpie file photo

As promised, Warren Lodge 32 will host its Second Annual Festive Board on the last Saturday of July. This is the one I told you about last summer: an outdoor convivial meal, with all the toasts, and by lantern light too.

The lanterns are a nod to Warren 32 being New York’s last “moon lodge,” meaning the brethren meet monthly on or about the full moon. This time, the full moon—a Sturgeon Moon supermoon, like last time—won’t come until August 1, but Warren Lodge will host this feast on July 29.

Click to enlarge.

The flier above has all the details, and the flier below gives you the option of purchasing your own lantern to use during the festivities and to take home.

Click to enlarge.

It’s a great time. Get’s the Magpie Seal of Approval and all that. I plan to be there, but there’s a chance my own lodge might seize that day to host its annual summer cook-out. Although there’s no reason why I couldn’t attend both, I guess.

Warren is a historic lodge with a beautiful ancestral home that is worth visiting in its own right. I’m bringing a pipe or three, with some Harvest Moon mixture (unless someone markets a Sturgeon Moon tobacco in the meantime!).

Monday, May 15, 2023

‘Where Men Build Meaning’


It’s been available in a limited way online since Grand Lodge met two weeks ago, but last Wednesday the Where Men Build Meaning video was uploaded to YouTube. This advertisement on Grand Lodge’s Our Quarry channel aims to encapsulate—to borrow from Wilmshurst—the meaning of Masonry. Not easily done in two minutes.

The title is too opaque for my tastes. Freemasonry is a very specific and highly stylized thing. Then again, two minutes isn’t a lot of time, and a promotional video isn’t necessarily the place to venture too deep.

But it’s okay.

My problem with any such video is in how it speaks to existing Freemasons at least as much as it does to the public we want to meet. Still, this one surpasses the “Scottish Rite NMJ” message, which is self-congratulatory pap.

“Honey? Look at this. See? I’m not just a man. I’m a Mason!” “Congratulations. Now take out the garbage.”

So maybe there will be future videos from Our Quarry that might speak to more than making friends with a nod to the Principal Tenets. It’s hard. I understand. (I’ve always scoffed at the “elevator pitch.”) And I’m not knocking the making friends part, knowing that study after study documents how men, young and middle aged alike, are meandering through life friendless, with the predictable consequences. But the apt messaging exists. We have the Standard Work and Lectures. We have centuries of literature to mine.

Check out what Vermont recently produced.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

‘The Mother Lodge’

Via Twitter

It’s Mother’s Day here in the United States, so I thought I’d share with you Bro. Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mother Lodge.” (Copied and pasted from the Kipling Society website. Click here for the poem’s context and history.) Kipling was from Lodge Hope and Perseverance 782 (EC) in Punjab, India.

The Mother Lodge

There was Rundle, Station Master,
An’ Beazeley of the Rail,
An’ Ackman, Commissariat,
An Donkin o’ the Jail;
An Blake, Conductor-Sergeant,
Our Master twice was e,
With im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside - “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside - “Brother,” an’ it doesn’t do no arm.
We met upon the Level an we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,
An’ Saul the Aden Jew,
An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,
An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We adn’t good regalia,
An our Lodge was old an’ bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An’ we kep’ em to a hair;
An lookin’ on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain’t such things as infidels,
Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We’d all sit down and smoke
(We dursn’t give no banquets,
Lest a Brother’s caste were broke),
An’ man on man got talkin’
Religion an’ the rest,
An’ every man comparin’
Of the God e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin’,
An’ not a Brother stirred
Till mornin’ waked the parrots
An’ that dam’ brain-fever-bird.
We’d say twas ighly curious,
An we’d all ride ome to bed,
With Moammed, God, an’ Shiva
Changin’ pickets in our ead.

Full oft on Guv’ment service
This rovin’ foot ath pressed,
An bore fraternal greetin’s
To the Lodges east an’ west,
Accordin’ as commanded.
From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
My Brethren black an’ brown,
With the trichies smellin’ pleasant
An’ the hog-darn passin’ down;
An’ the old khansamah snorin’
On the bottle-khana floor,
Like a Master in good standing
With my Mother-Lodge once more.

Outside - “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside - “Brother,” an’ it doesn’t do no ’arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

Thursday, May 11, 2023

‘What’s the deal with…?’

Castle Rock Entertainment
‘What’s the deal with…?’ 

“I also present you with a new name; it is Caution; it teaches you that as you are barely instructed in the rudiments of Masonry, that you should be cautious over all your words and actions, particularly when before the enemies of Masonry.”

Illustrations of Masonry
“First Degree Initiation”
William Preston

That bit of wisdom lives on today in our New York Ritual of Initiation. It is phrased slightly differently, but the point still stands. Not every grand lodge’s ritual includes it, so I wonder about the social media presence of lodges that publicize the identities of those who are newly initiated or passed or raised. What’s the deal with that?

When I was brought into the fraternity, this was not done. There was no social media or even much of an internet at that time, but the lodge would publicize things in the local newspapers—but never the names and faces of candidates.

And don’t get me started on the way people dress for their Masonic ceremonies either.

Monday, May 8, 2023

‘Thanks to The Square’


The Masonic blogosphere is a shadow of its formerly influential salad days. The websites that are kept updated with any regularity are few. Nevertheless, The Square magazine shows its appreciation for these efforts through its monthly feature Masonic Blogs, and The Magpie Mason was so recognized.

The magazine publicizes its articles via the usual social media platforms, and its posts last week promoted your favorite Masonic blog! No, not Dummies. This one!

It seems The Magpie Mason’s actual appearance in the magazine was more than a year ago. Somehow this eluded me despite my regularly perusing the website.

I’m in good company too. The current issue salutes Craftsmen Online as the highlight of Masonic podcasts.

The Square delivers solid content about Freemasonry, and does so free of charge. My thanks to Editor Philippa Lee for the generous recognition.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

‘King Charles III: So help me God’


The coronation of the United Kingdom’s monarch took place today—you may have heard—and this edition of The Magpie Mason concerns King Charles III’s oath, which concludes with the words “So help me God” and a kiss of the Bible.

I have written more than once on the likelihood that George Washington added those four words to his first presidential oath of office in New York on April 30, 1789. My contention, which can be read here, basically is that Washington spoke those words because they were traditionally found in oaths, even if they are not in the text of the presidential oath as given in the U.S. Constitution. To bolster the convincing circumstantial evidence I cited, which includes several early Masonic oaths, I now share the king’s oath which has roots in medieval times.


“All this I promise to do. The things which I here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.” He then kissed the Holy Bible.

That’s it. That’s the whole post.

‘Monk Tabaco and the Square & Compasses’

Monk Tabaco

An online discussion of rope tobaccos for the pipe led me to the existence of an Argentine tobacco company named Monk that, for reasons I cannot discover, employs the Square and Compasses for a logo. I thought I’d share some info here.

Monk Tabaco

I gather Monk adheres to the boutique approach, offering its mixtures in small quantities, so the oligarchy of pipe tobacco makers should fear no danger. Maybe success will produce growth. (I don’t find any distribution in the United States.)

Monk Tabaco
It uses ingredients with which we are familiar, and it makes pipe mixtures in the forms we know. There are ribbon, flake, and—impressively—the rope tobaccos. Monk sells aromatics and the usual traditional blends, so there’s something for just about everyone. They manufacture cigars also, but pipe mixtures seem to be Monk’s emphasis. Actually, I’m only assuming they make the goods.

Monk Tabaco

No hablo español
, so I can’t decipher its website, but some of its Facebook posts are translated into English.

Monk Tabaco

When looking at the prices, don’t have a heart attack. The goods are valued in Argentine pesos, which is denominated with the same dollar sign we use. For example, the 100-gram tin of Mediterráneo Edición Especial retails for $3,450.00—and, in U.S. dollars, that’s $15.52. (If you think inflation here is debilitating, you won’t believe what’s happening in Argentina!)

The Grand Lodge of Argentina is among the recognized family comprised of most Freemasons. From what I’ve read, I would say our Argentine brethren practice the variety of Freemasonry favored by the Grand Orient of France, as opposed to the Anglo-American type. Click here and check it out.